The Dish: A conversation with Tam Doan

Tam Doan

Tam Doan

Here's this week's The Dish: a conversation with Tam Doan:

Title: Chef and co-owner with his wife Nancy of the Golden Leaf Chinese Restaurant, 3615 U.S. 41 N., Naples, 434-6336

Hometown: Vietnam

What cooking experience do you have? We owned Chinese restaurants in New Hampshire for 23 years before we bought this one. To learn the proper techniques of Chinese cooking we went to China to study for six months. My wife and I speak Chinese, Vietnamese and English.

What is your favorite dish on your menu? The Kung Pao Three Delights. It is a combination of chicken, beef and shrimp.

What do you eat even though you know your shouldn’t? Burger King.

What do you do when you go home after work? We are at the restaurant practically all the time, but when I go home I like to watch television.

What one ingredient must you have? Definitely chicken.

Do you have anything special planned at the restaurant? As soon as the construction is finished in the shopping center we are going to have a Chinese buffet on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. We hope to start Dec. 6.

What is your most used utensil or appliance? My chef’s knife and my wok.

What is your favorite time of day? At night when I can watch sports on television. I really like football.

Do you have a favorite childhood meal? Vietnamese noodle soup — Pho, a beef-based soup with rice noodles.

What one person would you like to have dinner with? My lovely wife and partner, Nancy.

What is your drink of choice? Beer, a Heineken.

What do you like to eat when you go out? My favorite thing to eat out is a steak, potato and salad.

What is the best thing about your job? Meeting and talking to my customers.

What was your most memorable meal? Before we moved to Naples we had a big cookout in New Hampshire. We had steak, chicken and pork chops. It was wonderful.

If you could be anything what would you be? A race car driver. I like to go fast.

* * *

Doan gave us this recipe. He said the more exotic ingredients can be found at ethnic food markets such as the Asian Pok market, 2095 Pine Ridge Road.

GENERAL TSO's CHICKEN

Ingredients

Chicken

2 pounds chicken breast, cut into chunks

10 ounces water chestnut powder

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 eggs

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

½ cup cooking wine

2 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons sesame oil

Sauce

½ cup water

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Small piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 scallion, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Optional: vegetables sauce as baby corn, onions and red and green peppers

Preparation

Chicken

* Place eggs in a bowl and beat them and place the chicken pieces in the egg to coat.

* Add the oyster sauce and sugar and mix well.

* Add the chestnut powder and cornstarch and mix and coat the chicken well.

* Heat the oil in a skillet.

* Fry the chicken until crispy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

* Take out the pieces and place on paper towels on a plate to drain.

Sauce

* In a wok or fry pan add all the ingredients except the cornstarch and mix. If desired you can now add baby corn, onions, red and green peppers.

* If sauce needs to be thicker add the cornstarch.

* Place the chicken pieces into the wok and mix together for 10 to 20 seconds.

* Serve over rice on a warm plate.

* Serves four.

Connect with Sheila Mesulam at www.naplesnews.com/staff/sheila_mesulam

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